As Christian Nationalism gains more steam amidst the ongoing collapse of Western liberalism, I’m seeing a lot of detractors attempting to dismiss it as meaningless. They take theological and political disagreements among Christian Nationalists as a sign that even we don’t know what it is. They also make bizarre and illogical conclusions about what Christian Nationalism entails and portray them as core principles. The result is confusion all around.
Part of that confusion is deliberate and malicious, of course; it’s easier to dismiss an idea than truly engage with it, after all. Another part of it is a matter of unrealistic expectations. A nascent political movement isn’t going to have the kind of solid and precise definition that other movements only acquire after a generation or two.
Nevertheless, as Christian Nationalism matures, it must begin to define itself more clearly as well. Having written about Christian Nationalism several times myself, I’m keenly aware that none of my descriptions amount to a clear definition or statement of principles. And so, I thought it would be appropriate to put together a list of 14 points of Christian Nationalism to help the concept coalesce.
I put it forward not as definitive, but as a personal draft. The list expresses what Christian Nationalism means to me right now. Nevertheless, they may not be shared by other Christian Nationalists at present for whom I certainly cannot speak. Likewise, my own views are still evolving. So I expect this list to evolve as well as points drop away or new ones are added in.
We live in a time of great change, and none of us truly know what course the future will take. We only know that the present order cannot continue as before for much longer. May iron sharpen iron as Christians rediscover how to govern their nations in accordance with our faith.
- Christian Nationalism is a political ideology informed by the Christian faith, not a religion informed by political ideology.
- The Church does not need Christian Nationalism for its wellbeing. Nations need Christian Nationalism for their wellbeing.
- Christian Nationalists understand nation as meaning a people who share common ancestry, religious heritage, language, culture, and history together.
- We put our own nation first–not because it is superior to all others, but because it is the nation Christ has made us a part of. Accordingly, we serve it above all other nations, love it above all other nations and, when necessary, defend it against all other nations.
- We respect that other nations are likewise responsible for themselves first and therefore seek to govern ourselves separately from them but live in peace with them whenever possible.
- Christian Nationalists reject the incoherent religious neutrality of classical liberalism, and strive to honor Jesus Christ as king in every area of life, including government.
- Government is incapable of forcing conversion to Christianity because conversion depends on a faith that cannot be coerced into existence.
- Government’s purpose is not to make men righteous, but to restrain human wickedness by commending rightdoers and punishing wrongdoers.
- Wrongdoing may be tolerated by government when legal suppression of evil would lead to even greater evils.
- Christian nationalists distinguish right from wrong and weigh greater vs lesser evils according to Christian moral principles, and we explicitly carry out the purpose of government in accordance with those principles.
- Forms of wickedness which must be legally restrained when intolerable include, but are not limited to: clear blasphemy against Jesus Christ, murder (regardless of age), sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and unbridled greed. A government which does not seek to restrain such evils is incompetent.
- God has appointed fathers to govern their own households. National government proceeds from this household government and exists to serve it. It does not replace it and may not usurp it.
- Immigration is tolerable only insofar as it neither unduly burdens nor harms our nation. Mass immigration is always harmful. Smaller scale immigration is more harmful the more an immigrant differs from our nation in terms of ancestry, language, history, culture and religious heritage.
- It is good and proper for governmental institutions to participate in religious expression so long as that expression is Christian. This includes prayers, ceremonies, holidays, and the like.
“Smaller scale immigration is more harmful the more an immigrant differs from our nation in terms of ancestry, language, history, culture and religious heritage.”
I wouldn’t use the word “harmful” here, but difficult. In my mind, the learning curve demands so much more from the immigrant and the ones receiving him. This is why for particularly foreign cultures I think that it is a good idea to allow very small numbers of such folks, and to not let them gather in ghettos but isolate them more than less and set up situations which will cause them to assimilate in communities who are eager to welcome them and help them. At the same time, we should also consider why we do this: why are we just eager to take what amounts to the best and brightest from lands afar when the odds are good they won’t want to go back? Don’t we deprive their own/former nations by doing this?
Getting closer to home: of course with America, the issue is that our country was largely founded by those with British heritage and so government and law more or less conform to British common law. At the same time, there were significant minorities in this land right from the beginning as well, and I don’t think there can be any real question about the “Americanness” of the Descendants of slavery and the native peoples. How much can and should we strive to see ourselves as having things in common? An American ethnicity, so to speak? Or is any such program like this necessarily not about a nation but an empire? Where is the line, where “unlike” makes a common nation impossible?
Not easy questions. Albert Murray, in his book the “Omni-Americans” said this in 1970:
“… the so-called black & so-called white people of the United States resemble nobody else in the world so much as they resemble each other…”
Do we want to build on that, or not? Engage with and unpack that, or not? That, I think, is the question that this nation is always before us and that few want to wrestle with seriously.
My own view here is that being a loyal American has nothing to do with being ‘white’. I ask this: Doesn’t being an American basically mean deeply respecting the basically British citizens who established this country for themselves and their posterity, speaking their English, honoring their customs, and submitting to the Constitution they established? While being honest about them: their good and their bad? If you think that sounds good and you are willing to fight and die for such a land, I think that makes an American.
All this said, it seems there are fewer and fewer folks who match that description as we continue to atomize and lose touch with all manner of cultural heritage and tradition…
Regarding whether immigration is harmful or “difficult”, I think “why” is indeed the pertinent question there. Extreme difficulty without any meaningful benefit is indistinguishable from harm. Of the five identifying factors for nations that I listed, only two can be learned–language and culture–and the latter is the work of at least one lifetime. Ancestry and shared history can only be assimilated through many generations of intermarriage. And religion is a whole other ball of wax.
Some level of immigration is just going to happen. But any kind of real assimilation takes generations. An immigrant simply cannot become American–at best, his grandchildren or great grandchildren can become Americans. And by the time it’s finally done, you do have more Americans… but your native population was already making more Americans in the first place, so what was the point? That’s why it’s mainly a matter of keeping immigration small and incidental rather than setting up an elaborate system to try and make it healthy.
As for whites, blacks, and natives, that’s another story. I would not say that the native American tribes are American in the way I normally use the term. They were the native population that was decimated by the unchecked immigration of my ancestors.
Blacks and whites are a more interesting case, though. Now, I don’t agree with your definition of American. Ancestry is of fundamental importance as a basic part of human nature, and “deeply respecting” culture & history is not at all the same thing as sharing it. We’ve all seen weeabu who very deeply respect Japanese culture, but it most definitely does not make them Japanese in any meaningful sense–much to their dismay. We can’t just expunge those other factors from national identity.
That said, blacks and whites in America are interesting because there *is* shared ancestry, religious heritage, language, culture, and history between them. They really are both American. However, we are increasingly having to grapple with the probability that there are actually two different American nations here. There is a lot that is shared. And yeah, I don’t think blacks would fit in particularly well in Africa anymore; they’ve moved on as a people. But the differences in all of 5 of those factors between whites and blacks are also very real. Those obvious differences are precisely why we generally identify one-another differently (and naturally segregate.)
And as a simple matter of practicality, I’m increasingly unsure that these two distinct American nations are able to–or even want to–be governed together. I loved the idea of color-blindness, but that idea lasted for what, a decade or so? Other than that, it was tribalism before and tribalism now–just with different power dynamics. Conservatives can blame the liberals for that failure all they want, but the fact is it was *extremely* easy for them to make it fail. We have no business working to build a future built entirely on such a fragile and uncertain assumption with no meaningful history to establish its long-term workability.
As to keeping immigration small and incidental, I would suggest a constitutional amendment limiting immigration to no more than 0.01% of the adult, native-born population per year (1 immigrant per 10,000 native born adults per year). Yes, the number is arbitrary, but it is necessary to draw the line somewhere. I would also require immigrants be dispersed throughout the nation in proportion to each county’s population, making assimilation necessary by avoiding foreign ethnic enclaves, and preventing any county from being overwhelmed. This dispersal should, of course, be conducted in accordance with the Fourth Commandment, so husband and wife and their dependent children shall immigrate as a unit and not be separated.
I would point our that I am not denying the importance of what the founders said about this. As Tom Cotton pointed out:
“Prior to those stirring passages about “unalienable Rights” and “Nature’s God,” in the Declaration’s very first sentence in fact, the Founders say it has become “necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands” that tie them to another—one people, not all people, not citizens of the world, but actual people who make up actual colonies. The Founders frequently use the words we and us throughout the Declaration to describe that people…
“Perhaps most notably, the Founders explain towards the end of the Declaration that they had appealed not only to King George for redress, but also to their fellow British citizens, yet those fellow citizens had been “deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.” Consanguinity!—blood ties! That’s pretty much the opposite of being a citizen of the world….”
At the same time, the late Aaron Wolf stated the following:
“In Federalist 2, John Jay argues for the ratification of the Constitution on the basis of nationalism: ‘Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people.’ He did not imagine that the ‘people’ were united under an idea, or around a Constitution. For Jay and the Federalists, the Americans were ‘a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs… and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence. This country and this people seem to have been made for each other… and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.’
This was their case against the Antifederalists. The idea was that, being one people of blood and custom, they must have a strong central government to preserve the people’s liberties against the threat of foreign invasion. So the debate was ‘whether it would conduce more to the interest of the people of America that they should, to all general purposes, be one nation, under one federal government,… or that they should divide themselves into separate confederacies, and give to the head of each the same kind of powers which they are advised to place in one national government.’ Clearly with regard to Jay’s list of criteria that makes ‘one united people,’ the ship has sailed. We can debate whether Publius was right to suggest that national interests were more vital than local and regional ones. (Well, not really: Even that debate is poisoned by cries of ‘Neo-Confederate!’ and ‘racist!’ whenever the Antifederalist side is defended.)
But anyone looking honestly at the original debate between the Federalists and the Antifederalists would have to admit that neither side would recognize the United States as she currently exists. On what basis, then, does one argue for American nationalism today? We can hardly say that the ‘nation’ is ‘descended from the same ancestors’; professes ‘the same religion’; is ‘attached to the same principles of government’; or is ‘very similar in their manners and customs.’ As for ‘speaking the same language’—se habla español.”
What we basically see, it seems to me, is that ancestry and continuing that aspect of heritage here was important but also one important element of many. America has never been Japan in its evaluation of the potential of others to become American (as you seem to acknowledge also)…
How long *must* it take for one to become American? If one marries or not? Legally? Culturally? Must a Christian believe this or that regarding such an issue. I would say this: if you are a young man and you come to the country, you should be immediately be ready to die for it, and to even fight your own previous nation (admittedly, many immigrants don’t think this way, and because of that, we should be wary). So, whatever the right answer here, I think the price and cost of becoming an American is higher and finally worth less all the time.
It’s true that neither side would recognize the United States today. However, I think you’re confusing the state (the United States of America) with the nation (the American people.) For all intents and purposes, the USA is an empire governing multiple nations within its borders, and ever since the Civil War, it has been held together by force.
Being a citizen of the empire does not erase or override one’s nation. Paul’s Roman citizenship, for example, didn’t stop him from being a Hebrew of Hebrews. Likewise, he was willing to even be cut off from Christ for the sake of the Jewish people but never mentions that about the Roman people.
And like every empire, the United States is going to shatter and the nations within her will turn to governing themselves–probably a lot sooner than most people think. Those nations which fail or refuse to rise to this challenge will simply be extinguished, which is why the American nation needs to remember its identity. It’s also why we mustn’t ignore key parts of that identity like ancestry.
How long it would take to become an American in terms of the nation depends on how far off you are initially in terms of ancestry, language, history, culture and religious heritage. In most cases, it’ll be your descendants who are American, and you only retroactively through them. But without some kind of blood ties, it doesn’t really happen barring extraordinary circumstance.